Packing for Europe with Teenagers

Packing for Europe with a family of four is naturally a challenge. But, a two week trip through three countries, six hotels, and an overnight train, our packing will need to be done in a way that supports  “backpacking” meaning light weight, and streamlined – which will prove even more challenging.  That in mind we plan to take the Rick Steves approach: pack everything up, put it on your back, and head downtown for an hour to find out if the weight is too much. 

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France: Paris

While I generally believe in planning a European vacation with the optimistic assumption that I will return, there’s also a logic in ensuring that a first trip to Europe covers at least a few of the “greatest hits”.  Which is why, our upcoming family adventure will include three days in Paris, even though (gasp!) it isn’t one of my favorite cities.

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Amsterdam: 18 Hour Layover


Rijksmuseum, Courtesy IAmesterdam

There are three direct flights from Europe to Salt Lake City, through London, Paris, or Amsterdam. Following our time in Rome, I knew we’d have to connect in one of these cities, and based on a great deal I found on Delta, Amsterdam was the best option.  So, I decided to push for one more day of Punching the Travel Fun Button with a layover in Amsterdam.  We won’t have much time, so I opted for maximum convenience in all our planning.

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Normandy: Two Day Itinerary

Travelling by myself, I would not dedicate two precious vacation days to Normandy.  I am neither a history buff, nor a fan of the road trip. But, with a husband and two boys – it seems no trip to Europe would be complete without a little war (literally, historically, & metaphorically) of various interests.  So, I’ve tried to build out an itinerary that combined things I enjoy – quaint villages, wine, charming architecture – with things they’ll enjoy. Normandy will keep off our European adventure with a day of beaches and Mont-Saint-Michel, followed by a day of Memorial Museums and the charming city of Rouen.
Roman Forums, Palatine Hill, July 2015

Rome: Three Day Itinerary

With two teenage boys in tow, one European city is a guaranteed winner – Rome. Although, I will admit, it has taken four trips to Rome for me to learn to love the Eternal City, so positioning this trip at the end of our journey goes against my basic advice: hit Rome first, while you still have enough energy for this buzzing, complicated, frenetic, city. But, logistics of our trip being what they are, we’ll be hitting Rome as our penultimate stop. That in mind, I booked a relaxing hotel with a gorgeous pool outside the city center to ensure we could escape from Rome if we start feeling overwhelmed by the crowds or the heat.

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Basic French Toolkit

Conjugating Verbs:

être – AM

I Am

je        suis
tu        es
il; elle   est
ns        sommes
vs        êtes
ils; elles sont

I Will Be

j’ai été
tu as été
il; elle   a été
nous avons été
vous avez été
ils; elles ont été

I Was

I was, I used to be
tu étais
il/elle était
nous étions
vous étiez
ils/elles étaient

Avoir – Have

I Am Having

tu as
il/elle a
nous avons
vous avez
ils/elles ont

I Will Have

I will have
tu auras
il/elle aura
nous aurons
vous aurez
ils/elles auront

I Had

I had, I used to have
tu avais
il/elle avait
nous avions
vous aviez
ils/elles avaient

Aller – Go

I Go

je vais
tu vas
il/elle va
nous allons
vous allez
ils/elles vont

I Will Go

I will go
tu iras
il/elle ira
nous irons
vous irez
ils/elles iront

I Went

tu allais
il/elle allait
nous allions
vous alliez
ils/elles allaient